My first year of high school was at a private school that had just turned from an all-boys’ school to co-ed. There were four girls in my class of 28. Then, in medical school, there were 30 of us in a class of 95.
There were sneers, kicks in the shins, whistles, you name it. Needless to say, I needed help from women regarding how to navigate all of this. Fortunately, I had been taught to have a thick skin and seek the boys, and men, who were kind. (I found many of them.) I could never have done this had my mother not been such a tough woman.
My mother was a stay-at-home mom but was savvy enough to know the best way for me to handle the challenges. Rather than cave to some of the guys’ bad behaviors, she simply encouraged me to put myself above them and march on.
“If you let the bad ones get to you,” she said, “then you lose. Look above and beyond them.”
She was right and that is exactly how I kept my wits about me and enjoyed what I was doing.
When I wanted to quit, whether I was in college or medical school, my mother never said, “Oh that’s a good idea.” Rather, she told me that I could get through whatever my struggle was because I was tougher than I thought. The truth was, she was tougher than I thought, and it was through following her example of courage, perseverance and humor that I stayed the course.